ORIENT continued their excellent recent run with a convincing 4-1 victory against Carlisle at the Matchroom Stadium. The score marks a repeat of the result at Brunton Park when the two sides met back in November and it was a fully merited one for Orient, who impressed throughout and are now only three points off the play-offs.
Boss Russell Slade made three changes from the slender victory over Portsmouth in midweek with club captain Nathan Clarke returning from injury to compensate for the loss of Mathieu Baudry. Additionally, veteran Martin Rowlands and top-goalscorer Kevin Lisbie came into the starting XI in place of, Lloyd James and Charlie Macdonald respectively.
The O’s started brightly and within a matter of minutes forced opposition goalkeeper Mark Gillespie into a smart save as Nathan Clarke’s head firmly met an in-swinging Lee Cook corner only for the keeper to parry clear.
The fast start continued but this time at the other end as O’s custodian Jamie Jones tipped over a rasping eighth-minute drive from Brad Potts.
Four minutes later, the home fans were up in arms as Gillespie was adjudged to have handled the ball just outside the box. However, despite being well-placed, Rowlands’ free-kick could only find the Carlisle wall.
The visitors thought they had scored soon after when Vincelot headed against his own post from a whipped McGovern delivery before from the rebound, a drilled effort was smuggled off the line by Rowlands with Jamie Jones beaten.
After a period of sustained pressure just after the half hour Orient grabbed the lead. Dean Cox wriggled clear to produce an astute near-post cross that left Romain Vincelot with a simple header to score his first goal for the O’s.
On the stroke of half-time Orient extended their lead. Carlisle struggled to clear their lines and when the ball popped out to Cook on the left he fizzed a ball across the face of goal which was turned in from point blank range by the lively Shaun Batt.
From the restart, Carlisle began to push forward in search of a comeback but the O’s were dogged in defence all afternoon and on 57 minutes, Dean Cox should have slotted home his side’s third but could only find the goalkeeper with a weak finish.
Just 12 minutes later however, the result was sealed as Orient deservedly did find the net. Charlie MacDonald had only been on the field for a matter of seconds after replacing Shaun Batt but immediately found himself played in on goal by Lee Cook. The striker took his time and rounded the goalkeeper but was brought down by Gillespie, resulting in a penalty and a red card for the unfortunate Carlisle man. Kevin Lisbie made no mistake from the spot for his 13th league goal of the season.
With the game effectively over, Orient just seemed to relax a little and allowed ten man Carlisle back into proceedings. After a succession of corners, Matty Robson’s drilled shot in the 78th minute from the left channel shot past Jamie Jones and in off the post.
Back came the O’s who thought they had an immediate response when first Mooney hit the post before MacDonald tapped home at the far post from Cook’s teasing delivery, only to be thwarted by an offside flag.
The O’s eventually did get the fourth goal their performance merited when a Cook cross was neatly taken down by Cox, who took a touch to set himself before drilling beyond Collin with his weaker left foot to take the club to within touching distance of the play-offs.
ORIENT: Jones; Odubajo, Clarke (C), Cuthbert, McSweeney; Cox, Rowlands, Vincelot, Cook; Lisbie (Mooney – 72), Batt (MacDonald – 67)
SUBS: Grainger (GK), Sawyer, Smith, Omozusi
BOOKINGS: Clarke (73)
CARLISLE: Gillespie; Simek, O’Hanlon, Livesey (Murphy – 29), Mustoe; McGovern (Symington – 59), Thirwell (C), Berrett (Collin – 68), Potts, Robson; Beck
SUBS: Welsh, Noble, Rory Loy, Cadamarteri
BOOKINGS: Murphy (33)
RED CARDS: Gillespie (67)
ATTENDANCE: 4,387 (431)
REFEREE: Simon Hooper